When Paul Spalvieri opened the first Max’s Natural Pet Market & Salon in 2019 on S.R. 54 (about a mile east of Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., near the entrance to Saddlebrook Resort), he brought a boutique concept in pet care and grooming that is completely different from the big box pet stores to Wesley Chapel.

In just three years, Max’s has now grown to three locations, proving that people want and appreciate the premium nutrition and impeccable grooming in cage-free facilities that Max’s offers.

Last December, Paul’s business partners Gregg and Gabriel Clavijo-Hopper opened a franchise location in New Tampa in the shopping plaza on the southeast corner of Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. and County Line Rd.

On July 1, Paul opened a new store in Mirada, a new master planned community just north of Wesley Chapel in San Antonio, FL, that will offer a 15-acre lagoon and dog parks, which Paul believes will be a good fit for his business.

“We’re following the same model of being cage-free for grooming, focused on diet and nutrition for dogs and cats, and having pets at the forefront of what we do,” Paul says. “And the grooming area at the new store is also 50-percent bigger than the Wesley Chapel and New Tampa salons.”

The Mirada location provides convenient access to Max’s for customers who live in the northern portions of  Wesley Chapel, such as Epperson and Watergrass, as well as nearby communities such as Tampa Bay Golf Country Club in San Antonio and Lake Jovita in Dade City. 

Paul and his wife Martina live in Watergrass and are pet parents to both Max, a Bichon Frise, and Missy, a Havanese, as well as three human kids — Matthew, Martinka and Kristinka.

Paul opened Max’s Natural Pet Market & Salon when he couldn’t find the type of store he wanted to shop in locally with the kind of grooming he desired for his pup. He set out to create what he was looking for, but now, he’s become passionate about helping all pets, not just his own.

“When we first opened the store, it was all about Max, but our focus has changed,” says Paul. “Now, it’s all about your pet. We offer the highest-quality advice, products and grooming that you can get in the New Tampa or Wesley Chapel areas. We have your dog or cat’s best interest at heart, and they are the number one reason why we open our doors every day.”

Cage-Free Grooming

At all three locations, the cage-free grooming environment means your dog will never be locked up. Appointments run strictly on time to avoid pets feeling stressed and anxious in a cage while waiting to be picked up.

The new store has the same high-tech features that Max’s customers have come to love at its other locations — customized for small to large dogs. Bathing tubs are oversized to accommodate very large dog breeds — even those more than 150 pounds — and are walk-in and electronically raised and lowered for comfort and safety. Those same tubs also have a sizing adaptor to be comfortable for tiny dogs, such as Chihuahuas and Yorkies.

Groomers have the technical expertise to give breed-specific cuts, with certifications such as National Certified Master Groomer, as certified by the National Dog Groomers Association of America.

The groomers are led by Misty Garcia, services director, who is responsible for both grooming and in-store dog training. Misty has 26 years of experience as a groomer, and also been training dogs for more than 20 years. She has two Australian shepherds, including one she shows competitively.

In-Store Dog Training

As a one-stop-shop for pets, the Wesley Chapel and new Mirada locations both offer pet training in the store (although the Mirada store has not yet begun its in-store training). The five-week program is geared toward new puppies or beginners with no training. It lays the foundation to teach both owner and dog commands, which they practice in store. Then, the pet parent continues the training at home.

“The following week we do a review and build on those skills with new skills,” explains Paul, “such as sit, stay, watch me, how to walk on a leash and avoid distractions.”

Advanced training also is offered. The training schedule is on the store’s website at MaxsPetMarketAndSalon.com. Sign up online or call the store to register. The next beginner class starts July 28 in Wesley Chapel and will be held on consecutive Thursday nights from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Pet Nutrition

In addition to grooming and training, Max’s Natural Pet Market is focused on providing highly nutritious food and treat options, along with educated sales associates who can help customers make the best decisions for their pets’ diets.

Scott Kresh discovered the original Max’s shortly after it opened. He and his wife, Lorri, have two pit bulls — 14-year-old Maya and Niko, who is 3 — and a cat named Kara.

Maya had always had allergy and skin issues, and the staff at Max’s offered some ideas to help. Over time, Scott tried various diet changes suggested by Paul and his sales associates, and he says that Maya’s issues have been almost completely resolved.

“It’s too bad she’s so old because this is the best she’s ever looked,” says Scott. “In the past, she would get bumps that would ooze, but now she gets no bumps and no yeast flare ups, and I credit that to Paul’s food knowledge.”

Scott says every issue he’s had with his pets — from needing a specialized harness for his strong, young Niko to trying to address spraying with his older cat — Paul has been able to address. 

“He’s got an answer for everything,” says Scott. “It’s amazing. I’m not exaggerating at all. I credit him with helping us so much.”

Future Growth

Paul says his business will continue to grow as he is working toward potential franchises across the state and country, including in Fort Myers, Sarasota, Jacksonville, and even as far west as Arizona. 

“We’re looking at future growth,” says Paul, “and I will continue to be very involved in both our corporate and franchise stores.”

Anyone interested in Max’s franchise opportunities can get more information and submit a request for details on the store’s website.

Max’s Natural Pet Market & Salon has three locations that are open every day from 8 a.m.–7 p.m. The original Max’s is located at 28838 S.R. 54 in Wesley Chapel and can be reached at (813) 649-3939. The New Tampa store is located at 6431 E. County Line Rd. and can be reached by calling (813) 591-5368. The Mirada location is at 30945 Mirada Blvd. and can be reached at (352) 437-6677. For more information, visit MaxsPetMarketAndSalon.com or see the ad on page 26 of this issue.

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